Homicides decline in Oklahoma City in first quarter, but violent assaults continue to rise

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said homicides dipped in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 2012. Violent assaults, however, are on the upswing long-term. Residents at a northwest Oklahoma City apartment complex plagued by violent crime agree.
by Juliana Keeping Published: April 22, 2013

A woman found dead in a burning car last month is among the latest victims of violence plaguing Willow Cliff Apartments.

As detectives work to solve the homicide, violence continues to trouble residents. Squad cars ripped into the complex, at 5304 Willow Cliff Road, to break up a fight Thursday evening, and police briefly detained at least one youth to assuage the tension.

Police Chief Bill Citty said homicides were down in Oklahoma City in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 2012, but violent assaults have not abated. In fact, they are on the upswing long-term.

Residents at Willow Cliff agree. The yawning apartment complex in northwest Oklahoma City is flanked by large ponds that draw wildlife including geese, ducks and cranes. Residents love to fish there; their catches include bass and crappie. Music from nearby Putnam City High School's band floats over the complex some evenings. Children play soccer at nearby Dolese Youth Park.

“It's a lovable area,” resident Bennie Houston III said.

Houston, an Army veteran who works in manufacturing, lives at Willow Cliff to stay near his mother, who refuses to leave. She and other longtime residents love the area and call it home, Houston said.

Violence in recent years has caused some neighbors to either leave or to move from the back of the complex to the front, where they feel safer.

Fights are a common scene, residents said.

“A lot of the things we took for granted — the peace, the quiet in the evening,” Houston said. “It's gone. It's gone now.”

Oklahoma City police tackled 19 homicides in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 28 in the same period last year, a decrease of almost one-third. In 2012, the city had 99 homicides, the third most for one year in its history.

Police found Laquisha Danielle Towers, 27, dead in a burning car March 2 at Willow Cliff Apartments. Hers is one of five 2013 first-quarter homicides that remains unsolved.

“There's a correlation between aggravated assaults and homicides,” Citty said. “Homicides are an assault of the worst outcome.”

Over the past 10 to 15 years, aggravated assaults have been on the upswing, Citty said.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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A lot of the things we took for granted — the peace, the quiet in the evening. It's gone. It's gone now.”

Bennie Houston III,
Resident of Willow Cliff Apartments

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